by Gayle Lynds: What a thrill to introduce Rogue friend Diane Capri, who shot onto the New York Times bestseller list with her exciting novels, including her innovative thrillers starring the immortal Jack Reacher of Lee Child fame. She’s written ten in her Reacher series! A snowbird and recovering lawyer, Diane divides her time between Florida and Michigan. Fortunately for us, she’s hard at work on her next novel.
by Diane Capri
Have you watched The Queen’s Gambit? The Netflix original series is based on the novel by Walter Tevis and it’s stellar. We’re all abuzz about the orphan prodigy and her quest to become the world’s best chess player. Who knew chess could be so exciting?
Beth Harmon triumphs over adversity – and does it with style.
Therein lies the genius of this series for me.
If you haven’t seen The Queen’s Gambit, be warned that mild spoilers are coming up next.
From the first scenes, Beth’s story had me hooked. When she survives the car accident that killed her mother, Beth is sent to an orphanage. She demonstrates her strengths immediately, makes her place, and develops her own lifelong family.
The janitor is mildly shocked when Beth asks him to teach her how to play chess. Chess, he thinks, is not a suitable game for a young girl. Beth insists.
She knows her strengths and she goes after what she wants.
To his credit, the janitor is not jealous or dismissive. Quite the contrary. He respects and nourishes Beth’s desire to master the game, and she makes the most of her opportunity. Beth isn’t afraid to tackle the hard stuff.
As a teen, Beth is finally adopted. It’s a rough transition, but she doesn’t give up.
She redoubles her efforts to conquer the chess world, one match at a time. Beth’s competitive spirit literally saves her family from financial ruin.
In the 1960s, chess was very much a man’s game. Beth handles sex discrimination with panache. She vanquishes opponents match after match. In the process, she slays many of her own demons as well.
In short, the message is: women are skilled and courageous winners.
Some may find the story too unrealistic or too dark, but it’s also immensely entertaining and thoroughly hopeful. By the end, we feel that Beth Harmon will always triumph, in chess and in life.
What does any of this have to do with my Hunt for Jack Reacher thrillers, you may be wondering. My bestselling and award-winning series is a spin-off from my friend Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels. Each of my books uses one of Lee’s as the source material and jumps off into a totally new story.
The protagonist of Full Metal Jack is FBI Special Agent Kim Otto, assigned to work off the books to find Jack Reacher, who is being considered for a special classified assignment. Reacher is perhaps one of the most dangerous men alive. But is he friend or enemy?
Readers have described Kim as “a tiny stick of dynamite with a deadly aim.” She runs on her standard triple A’s: ambition, adrenaline, and anxiety. She’s the bravest woman I know.
Full Metal Jack is the tenth novel in the series. Kim and her new partner are sent to Carter’s Crossing, Mississippi, where they face deadly threats from ruthless villains. Reacher fans will recall Carter’s Crossing as the setting for Lee Child’s source book, The Affair.
What follows is fast paced and explosive action as she seeks to fulfill her mission: find Reacher.
Strong women getting the job done in the face of insurmountable odds is the story. Beth Harmon and Kim Otto both celebrate the kind of inspiring heroine readers can admire. Kim Otto fans will no doubt spy the common ground here. Such as…
Her focus – steady on, always honoring her own way, ignoring naysayers who might defeat her.
Courage in the face of adversity and triumph over her challenges.
Size matters. Agent Otto is a petite Vietnamese-American woman pitted against an unbeatable giant: Jack Reacher. How can she possibly win?
Like Beth Harmon, Kim Otto proves the doubters wrong. She deploys well-honed skills, guile, wit, and tenacity against overwhelming personal and professional odds. She never, ever, ever gives up – even when she might be tempted to surrender. Or at least retreat for a while.
For me, Kim Otto and Beth Harmon are both Rogue Women for sure.
I grew up reading Rogue Women like Kim Otto and Beth Harmon. I still love reading and writing them today. How about you?